Episode 854 Venturing into Politics
This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.
“You lie”, shouted US Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina. The president paused and looked in the direction of the interruption. Then he went on. It was a memorable occasion. He was talking about his health care proposal. We aren’t used to our president being disrespected while speaking to a joint session of congress. That happened over ten years ago. Things haven't improved in the meantime. And Joe Wilson: he has been re-elected several times. He still serves. His stock went up. Last time he was elected unopposed.
“Foul” became the cry of the land; at least half the land. Some folks liked the shout out. Political discussions raged across the land concerning this method of disapproval. We would like to think of our politics as being conducted in a civil fashion; though we all know that it isn’t true. The January 6th attempted coup proved that.
“What is this country coming to when we treat each other with such animosity?” I heard many people say. Similar thoughts were bannered endlessly. This Pollyanna belief in the way we have conducted our politics in the past is wishful thinking. Perhaps we haven’t had an exact copy of this most recent outburst but we have had our moments.
I’m thinking back to my junior high history class where I first encountered the story of an exchange between a Senator Sumner and a Senator Brooks – ironically Brooks was from South Carolina. The debate over slavery was raging across America and in the Senate. Sumner had delivered a stinging speech that accused Brooks of all sorts of ill doing – politically and personally. In response Brooks entered the senate with a large, strong cain and with a friend standing guard to keep people from intruding he beat Sumner unconscious. Sumner ended up bleeding and crumpled up under his desk. He never recovered. He died the following year. Now that is taking political differences a little too far.
In our recent memories are the dirty tricks campaign conducted by President Nixon. The nickname “tricky Dick” was well earned. He treated other politicians and the American public to acts that were not only unethical but were flat out illegal. Then there was the impeachment of President Clinton. A casual, ill-conceived and ill conducted liaison with a Whitehouse intern ended in the embarrassing and harassing impeachment process. No question, what he did was wrong. But the relentless pursuit was no less questionable. I’m sure someone is thinking; “The impeachment was over his lying under oath concerning the affair’. He lied and we can’t have a person who lies as our president.” When it comes to sexual affair, I can’t imagine many men doing anything differently. His lie would not lead to American soldiers dying, or financial system crumbling, our privacy being invaded, or our constitution being undefended. For most of our history a president's sexual escapades have remained unreported by the press. Only recently have we become so sensitive, and all invasive.
The dangers of entering into politics is perhaps best illustrated by the Julius Caesar story. The assassination of Caesar on the floor of the Senate has to be an all time low point. Now that was aggressive behavior. Then I think of all the stories of Kings and Queens in history who schemed and killed their way to power. Politics has a long history and civility seems to live more in the politics of the mind than reality.
This podcast has tried to avoid the topic of politics. It has not been easy. Politics is a topic that retired people have plenty of time to discuss. We have time for reading something not related to our business or employment. We have time for listening to news on an extended schedule. We have time to work in political campaigns. We have time to read history books and biography. From this time on politics will be fair game. It is a big part of retirement.
This is Retirement Talk.